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Sergei Filin’s contract at the Bolshoi not renewed

Posted on July 30, 2015

Sergei Filin, the director of the Bolshoi Ballet who was nearly blinded in a horrific acid attack organised by one of his own dancers in Moscow in 2013, has been told his contract with the company will not be renewed when it expires in March 2016.

A news story posted on the South China Morning Post website reports that Filin was told his contract was being brought to an end during a meeting with Vladimir Urin, the Bolshoi Theatre’s general director. The relationship between the two men is known to have been chilly – as demonstrated in the upcoming documentary Bolshoi Babylon, due for cinema release in December – and has become increasingly strained amidst backstage factions and rivalries that allege Filin “handed out roles in exchange for money and sexual favours”.

South China Morning Post reports that in an interview with Tass, the Russian state news agency, Filin said he had not expected to be offered a new contract: “In the modern world this is normal practice. I consider it fair… I have to move on, developing myself as a professional, doing something new.” In the same report, Urin is quoted to have said that the decision not to extend Filin’s contract was linked to the “affairs of the internal life of the theatre”.

Urin is also reported to have said that the current post of the Bolshoi Ballet’s artistic director would be scrapped once Filin leaves and replaced with a less wide-ranging role. The name of the new head of ballet is expected to be announced in September 2015.

In an interview published in the August issue of Dancing Times, Filin said of those at the Bolshoi who opposed his leadership: “Look, if you live in a house and the neighbour doesn’t like you – maybe you’re too modern, too rich, you have a better car than he does – what do you do? Move out? The only thing you can do is… Love your neighbour.”

Photograph: Vadim Shults.

Jonathan Gray is editor of Dancing Times. He studied at The Royal Ballet School, Leicester Polytechnic, and Wimbledon School of Art where he graduated with a BA Hons in Theatre Design. For 16 years he was a member of the curatorial department of the Theatre Museum, London, assisting on a number of dance-related exhibitions, and helping with the recreation of original designs for a number of The Royal Ballet’s productions including Danses concertantes, Daphnis and Chloë, and The Sleeping Beauty. He has also contributed to the Financial Times, written programme articles for The Royal Ballet and Birmingham Royal Ballet, and is co-author of the book Unleashing Britain: Theatre gets real 1955-64, published in 2005.

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